Trump, NBC renew pageant deal

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Donald Trump will remain in the TV beauty contest business for three more years under a renewed deal with NBC for broadcasts of the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, the network said Wednesday.

The contract extension will keep Miss Universe and Miss USA on the network through 2010, but a third pageant co-owned by Trump, Miss Teen USA, will be dropped from NBC after its summer 2007 broadcast.

The next Miss Universe telecast is set for May, under Trump's previous five-year pageant deal with NBC.

Friday's broadcast of the latest Miss USA contest saw troubled beauty queen Tara Conner pass the crown to Miss Tennessee, Rachel Smith, ending a year in which several scandals revived flagging interest in the pageant industry.

Conner came close to losing her Miss USA title in January over revelations of underage drinking, but she was given a second chance by Trump after she agreed to enter a rehabilitation program. She later admitted to struggling with alcoholism and having used cocaine.

Another Miss USA contestant was fired after racy photos of her surfaced on the Internet, and a third quit when she became pregnant, which is against the rules.

Despite the notoriety, Friday's Miss USA broadcast managed a relatively mediocre 7.4 million viewers -- down slightly from last year. Pageant ratings have been down in recent years.

Trump, nevertheless, touted the extension of his NBC deal with characteristic zeal.

"With each passing year our ratings continue to get better because of the beautiful and intelligent women who participate in our competitions," he said in a statement.
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