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Paula Deen coached before Matt Lauer interview – did it help?

Paula Deen is looking for help on surviving her public-relations nightmare — and old friend ‘Today’ show host Matt Lauer may be able to help — but she’s not going down without a fight.

The disgraced TV chef is scrambling to find a crisis public relations company to help her through the most important interview of her life, a Wednesday sit-down on “Today” with Matt Lauer.

After blowing off Lauer and the “Today” gang last Wednesday, when she was scheduled to appear to apologize for racially charged comments, Deen has promised to turn up for her first TV chat since the scandal broke.

“This is her make-or-break moment,” says an NBC insider. “This can destroy the legacy she spent so many years creating, or she can rise and put the past behind her. America loves to forgive, and if she speaks from the heart the producers will be happy.”

Deen admitted to using the “N” word in a deposition taken May 17 after former employee Lisa Jackson sued her for $1.2 million, charging discrimination.

We’re told Deen was terrified and met with several top crisis management firms after her disastrous YouTube apology video. She’s settled on the Rose Group, led by Eric Rose, which specializes in fixing scandal-scarred reputations.