Beauty vs Beast

NEW YORK - Billionaire Donald Trump has won the backing of beauty pageant organisers for putting Miss USA on warning for reported misbehaviour.

NEW YORK - Billionaire Donald Trump has won the backing of beauty pageant organisers for putting Miss USA on warning for reported misbehaviour.

The industry is keen to protect the sanctified image of beauty queens.

Miss USA, Tara Conner, is not the first beauty queen to face the ire of Trump, who owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe franchises. In 2002 he fired Miss Universe, Russia's Oxana Fedorova, for failing to perform her pageant duties.

The self-described teetotaller is evaluating Conner's "behavioural and personal issues" after newspaper reports that the 20-year-old titleholder has been partying in bars around New York, where the legal drinking age is 21.

The property magnate and host of the popular reality TV show The Apprentice has called a press conference for today at which he will reveal Conner's fate.

"Mr Trump is seriously studying the situation," someone in his office said on Friday, declining to elaborate on the behaviour that sparked the review of the beauty's conduct.

"First and foremost, he is concerned about Tara and wants to do what is best for her. Then he will think about what is best for the very successful Miss USA pageant."

If Conner is dethroned, runner-up Tamiko Nash, Miss California, will take her place, and Conner would join a list of beauty queens who have fallen from grace for breaching written, and unwritten, rules after donning their tiara.

Miss USA organisers declined to hand over a list of rules for their titleholder, but said she had to be a role model.

Miss America, another beauty pageant institution, said title-holders had to "protect and enhance the image, good name and broad public acceptance of Miss America".

These rules were broken in 1984 when it emerged that Vanessa Williams, the first African-American Miss America, had posed nude for Penthouse magazine. Williams resigned and her career as an actress and singer took off.

In 1973 Marjorie Wallace, the first American Miss World, lost her crown for dating too many men.

Last month Danielle Lloyd was dethroned as Miss Great Britain when it was discovered she had dated one of the judges and had appeared in Playboy.

A pageant coach said she knew from her experience as Miss Maryland 1998 how much pressure titleholders were under in the public spotlight.

"You have to be aware that a lot is at stake because little girls are looking up to you." - Reuters

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