Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests at a campaign rally at Burlington Memorial Auditorium on October 21, 2015 in Burlington, Iowa.
NEW YORK - Republican front runner Donald Trump hosted the sketch-comedy show "Saturday Night Live," defying protesters to make the highly anticipated but controversial primetime television appearance.
Wearing a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, the bombastic Trump stepped on stage to cheers and insisted in a nearly five-minute opening monologue that saw him flanked by two lookalikes, "I am a nice guy."
"It&39;s wonderful to be here. This is going to be something special," he said.
Trump, a billionaire real estate developer who has never held elected office, leads the polls for the Republican nomination for the 2016 race to the White House and will be hoping that his appearance on the show will cement his status as front runner.
But the 69-year-old has courted controversy for his statements on immigration, promising that if he becomes president he will expel immigrants who are in the United States illegally and build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
He has also alleged that Mexico sends rapists and other criminals across the border.
That stance saw Latino community leaders hold a rally Friday in Los Angeles calling on NBC Universal to drop Trump from "Saturday Night Live."
And there were more protests Saturday in New York hours before the show was broadcast, with demonstrators marching to NBC&39;s studio in Rockefeller Plaza.
Donald Trump is hosting SNL tonight. Please DONT tune in. Let&39;s not applaud his racist and discriminatory ways. pic.twitter.com/VB6vb7qb8C— PopCulture Facts (@PopCultureShady) November 8, 2015
Activists protesting Trump on SNL going down 5th Ave right now. From Trump Tower to 30 Rock pic.twitter.com/zFbFkeOiUn— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) November 7, 2015