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    Court Clears Joe Francis for Celeb Apprentice

    Joe Francis Krista Kennell/ZUMA Press

    Joe Francis doesn’t have to worry about a little old tax-dodging trial to get in the way of his budding TV stardom.

    A federal judge today ruled that the Girls Gone Wild mastermind will be allowed to curry Donald Trump's favor on the new season of Celebrity Apprentice.

    Trouble is, he's not doing the new season of Celebrity Apprentice.

    Francis' lawyers initially made the Apprentice request weeks ago, but in the meantime, Francis has passed on the NBC reality show and instead, he and the Donald have concocted a different project.

    "Trump has asked me to do another show with him. We got a ton of offers when he announced my involvement [in Celebrity Apprentice]. It's a better deal because it's my own show," Francis exclusively tells E! News.

    But because he had already made the motion to get Apprentice approval, the judge was compelled to make a ruling.

    U.S. Attorney spokesman Tom Mrozek tells E! News that U.S. District Judge S. James Otereo had agreed to let Francis travel out of California "as long as he reports in to his pretrial services." Francis will now need to file a new motion to cover his untitled new Trump-powered gig.

    Francis' attorneys were in court in Los Angeles this morning for a hearing on a motion to delay his trial until 2010. Francis is charged with two counts of income-tax evasion.

    Otereo has taken Francis' request for delay under submission and will issue a ruling within the week, says Mrozek.

    “His trial is set for next month but will be delayed,” Mrozek says. “We don’t know how far it will be delayed. The judge will issue at some point in the future.”

    (Originally published Sept. 5, 2008, at 1:27 p.m. PT.)

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