- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The man who presided over Britney Spears‘ life during her well-publicized meltdown is portraying himself in court as a benevolent personal manager who saved her from ruin.

Sam Lutfi was to finish his direct testimony Wednesday and face cross-examination by a battery of lawyers for the singer’s parents and conservators. They are fighting a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by Lutfi, who claims he was defamed by Lynne Spears in her book about her daughter.

He also said he was promised 15 percent of the millions of dollars that Spears earned during their association.

Spears‘ mother portrayed him as a Svengali-like figure preying on Britney’s vulnerabilities. Lutfi said he was actually a peacemaker, reuniting Britney with her mother after a long estrangement.

He said the superstar implored him to become her personal manager after she had fired her entire staff.

Under questioning by his lawyer, Lutfi said Spears asked him to be her personal manager in June 2007, about a month after they met and struck up a conversation at a nightclub.

Lutfi described the singer at that time as being “in crisis mode.”

“She was very distraught,” he said. “She was having a child custody battle and was in the middle of a divorce.” He added she also had drug problems.

He was reluctant to become her manager, he said. “I told her I had no experience as a manager for someone of her caliber. I wanted time to think about it.”

But Lutfi said Spears pressed him, saying: “Sam, do you know what this job pays?”

“She said, `I’m getting $800,000 a month even when I’m not working. You will get 15 percent of that,’” he recalled.

Lutfi said he accepted the job with conditions, insisting that Britney allow him to put together a new “varsity team” consisting of a lawyer, agent and business manager.

“And I wanted her to promise me to stay clean,” he said, noting he brought drug-sniffing dogs to Spears‘ home, where they found a baggie full of a white powder.

He said she promised and he flushed the powder down the toilet. He said he then took control.

“I took charge of dealing with the press. I acted as a liaison between Britney and her child custody attorneys. I interfaced with her record label and video producers. I helped her choose artwork for her album and merchandise.”

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