WASHINGTON — Wealthy businessman Donald Trump announced Monday that he won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, bringing an end to the circus-like speculation that had surrounded the reality star’s political future in recent months.

“I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election,” Trump said in a statement. “Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”

Trump’s decision brings to an end a political roller-coaster ride on which the flamboyant celebrity pushed the debate over whether President Obama was born in the United States into the public eye, rose as high as second place in polling on the 2012 race and was on the receiving end of a fusillade of jokes from the president during last month’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

Trump’s hand was likely forced by NBC’s decision to renew the “Celebrity Apprentice” for another season. That meant that Trump had to choose between his interest in presidential politics and his career as a reality television star.