Donald Trump has been asked to "tone it down" by the head of the Republican Party amid fears that his claim that many Mexican immigrants are rapists will damage its hopes of taking back the White House.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, called Trump this week and warned him that his outbursts were enraging Hispanic voters and could hurt the party's other candidates, according to the Washington Post.
The tycoon seems to have ignored the message and continued to insist illegal immigrants cause "tremendous problems in terms of crime, in terms of murder, in terms of rape".
He also denied Priebus had asked him to rein in his rhetoric. "He called me, 10 minutes, said I hit a 'nerve', doing well, end!" he said on Twitter.
While Trump's immigration comments are not hurting him in the polls - some surveys put him second only to Jeb Bush - they have alienated many of his business partners.
The latest to cut ties is Jose Andres, a Spanish-born celebrity chef who has backed out of opening a restaurant in Trump's new hotel down the street from the White House.
"Donald Trump's recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward," Andres said.
The Trump business empire responded to the decision with threats of a lawsuit. Trump is already suing Univision, the Spanish-language television network, after it dropped its coverage of his Miss Universe beauty pageant. He has also threatened to sue NBC for the same reason.
While the 69-year-old has angered many fellow Republicans, he seems to be enjoying his time in the spotlight and is regularly summoning US television networks to his Trump Tower headquarters in New York for interviews.
He told NBC that he had "a great relationship with the Mexican people".
"They love me, I love them," Trump said, before insisting Latinos would vote for him despite his comments.
"If I get the nomination, I'll win the Latino vote," he said.
There are around 11 million illegal immigrants, known as undocumented migrants, in the US and they pose a policy quandary for Democrats and Republicans.
They are too many to be deported and some have been in the US for decades, working, paying taxes and raising American children.
Many Latino voters have family members who are in the US illegally and would punish candidates who demonise their community.
Hillary Clinton and most Democrats support a "pathway to citizenship" under which illegal immigrants could eventually become US citizens.
Republicans are divided on the question of citizenship and most emphasise a massive deployment of resources to stop new immigrants crossing the 3200km border with Mexico.
Trump's solution is to build a wall, which he says he would force the Mexican Government to pay for, but he has not said what he would do with people already in America.
While he is determined to keep illegal immigrants out of the US, he appears to have failed to keep them out of his own construction sites.
Several workers building Trump's new hotel told the Washington Post they were in the country illegally.
He also settled a lawsuit in 1999 which accused him of hiring undocumented Polish workers to help build his headquarters.
The workers claimed they were paid US$5 ($7.40) an hour to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.
In his words
From Donald Trump's speech launching his presidential campaign last month:
On candidates (and Isis)
Some of the candidates, they went in and didn't know the air conditioner didn't work and sweated like dogs, and they didn't know the room was too big because they didn't have anybody there. How are they going to beat Isis?
On job creation (and God)
I will be the greatest jobs President that God ever created.
On free trade (and people)
Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people.
On Mexicans (and crime)
They are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime and they're rapists, and some are good people, and I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting.
On Isis (and oil)
They built a hotel. When I build a hotel, I have to pay interest. They don't have to pay interest because they took the oil when we left Iraq, I said we should have taken. So now Isis has the oil.