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  Thuy Trang, one of finalists in the photo shooting challenge in episode 9 aired on Nov. 27

Vietnam's Next Top Model, into its second season, is in a royal mess.

On November 20, it aired episode 8 of the show that had 11 contestants remaining, three days after an article in Thanh Nien revealed the four finalists in the contest, including their pictures in Singapore as they prepared for the final round.

The finalists, in the normal course of events, would only be known to the public in January.

Multimedia JSC, the organizer of Vietnam's Next Top Model whose format was bought from America's Next Top Model, has said it is planning to sue three recently eliminated candidates for VND5 billion (US$238,000) each because they revealed results of the contest before the relevant episodes were aired.

Hoang Oanh and Phuong Nghi were eliminated in episode 8, and Thuy Duong in episode 9, which was aired on November 27. Facebook entries posted after the episodes' airing by the three eliminated contestants only expressed frustration and complained about unfair treatment by the judges.

However, organizers are saying they took part in a fashion show before their respective elimination episodes were aired, showing, in effect, that they were out of the contest.

Just as America's Next Top Model requires every competitor to sign in a contract committing not to reveal any information regarding the show to the third party, failing which they would be fined $5 million, both candidates and staff of the contest in Vietnam are to be fined VND5 billion if they reveal the show's result prior to the broadcasting.

Production manager of Vietnam's Next Top Model, Le Thi Quynh Trang, has confirmed the threat to sue, saying, "The three former participants violated the contract they signed with us. Based on what is written on the contract, each will be fined VND5 billion as compensation for the show's loss, in both money and prestige."

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Trang also said that as soon as the show's lawyer collects the documentation and evidence, they will have a meeting with the three regarding the issue.

However, the evidence presented thus far does not show how the names of the finalists were leaked months in advance.

In an apparent volte-face, Trang said that the organizers will wait for the three eliminated contestants to respond before deciding to sue them or not, because the "team of staff and contestants run into hundreds of people, it is very difficult for us to keep the result secret before the broadcasting."

She denied that the company was using the negative developments as a controversy that can generate publicity for the event, saying the event was a famous one run by professionals that will run over many seasons, and had no need to resort to such tricks.

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