Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump announces his tax plan during a press conference at Trump Tower in New York on September 28, 2015.

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Leaving the race would cause a 'depression'

Trump: I made money for CNN, Fox, MSNBC

CNN  — 

Donald Trump says there would be a “collapse” and a “depression” in television if he decided to end his presidential campaign.

“There’d be a major collapse of the race, and there’d be a major collapse of television ratings,” Trump said in a recent interview with The New York Times that was published Monday. “It would become a depression in television.”

Though still the Republican frontrunner, Trump’s backing has slipped recently – he is averaging 22.8% support in recent polls – his lowest rating since in more than a month.

For Trump, a decline in overall cable news ratings would allow him to exit the 2016 campaign with bragging rights intact if it came to that. He told the Times that the race would become so “boring” that he “wouldn’t even be watching it probably, and neither would anybody else.”

RELATED: Trump still tops in Iowa, New Hampshire

Trump said recently that he would bail out of the White House contest if his poll numbers continued to decline.

“I’m not a masochist. If I was dropping in the polls where I saw that I wasn’t going to win, why would I continue?” Trump told NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday.

“I believe in polls. How many elections do you see where the polls were wrong? Not that many. OK. You see them, but not that many. If I were doing poorly, if I saw myself going down, if you would stop calling me ‘cause you no longer have any interest in Trump because ‘he has no chance,’ I’d go back to my business. I have no problem with that,” he added.

But the real-estate mogul says he’s staying in and having a great time on the campaign trail.

Trump’s influence on the ratings is indisputable: 25 million viewers tuned in to the first Republican primary debate, shattering all expectations and making the Fox News broadcast the most-watched non-sports event in cable news history. The second debate drew 23 million viewers on television, making it the most-watched event in CNN history.

“I have made Fox and CNN so much money, and MSNBC, so much money,” Trump told the Times.

Unfortunately for Trump, it’ll be a long time before he can post such numbers again. The next Republican debate is nearly four weeks away and will be broadcast on CNBC – a network that, as of January, no longer uses Nielsen ratings.