Each "Cycle" of the show consists of 9–25 episodes and starts with 10–25 contestants. In each episode one contestant is eliminated, though in rare cases there may be double eliminations, multiple eliminations, or no elimination at all, based on the consensus of the judging panel. Makeovers are administered to contestants early in the cycle, usually after the first or second elimination.
Each episode usually begins with the contestants receiving training in an area concurrent with the week's theme. For example, contestants may get coached in runway walking, improvisational acting, and clothing to suit various occasions. A related challenge soon follows, such as a mock (or real) runway show or interview, and a model is chosen by judges. Contestant "model" receives some prize, such as a contract, a night out, or an advantage at the next photo shoot. The winning contestant is sometimes permitted to share her reward with other contestants of her choosing and on some occasions, may gain immunity from elimination at the next judging. Each episode, which covers the events of roughly one week of real time, is usually associated with a theme in the world of modeling, such as dealing with the press in interviews, selling a commercial product, appearing in a runway show, or visiting prospective employers in "go sees". Each episode typically features a fashion challenge, that ends with a final decision. But there can also be an elimination at the challenge where a model has to leave the competition immediately without any photograph. For example, a runway challenge where the weakest model has to leave the competition due to a weak walk.
In some franchises; the contestants will go to real-life castings; in return the girl who is chosen will complete what is required in the casting (runway, editorial, commercial) - due to this, the contestant may be void within the episode; normally skipping the photoshoot and/or other challenges - but is rewarded with immunity for booking the job.
The next segment is usually a photo shoot, which may involve beauty shots (closeup photos emphasizing the face), posing in swimwear, lingerie or other clothing, posing nude or semi-nude, posing with a male model, or posing with animals among other themes. Usually one photo shoot per cycle is replaced with a television commercial or music video shoot.
Performance in each week's photo or video shoot typically weighs heavily in the final judging, and it can result in the elimination of one or more contestants.
The final segment of each episode involves judging by a panel of fashion industry experts. In addition to the regular judges, usually there is a special guest judge related to that week's theme. Contestants are sometimes given a final challenge in some area of modeling such as posing, runway walking, selling a product, or choosing an appropriate outfit or makeup to satisfy a given situation. Each contestant's photo, or video performance, is then shown and evaluated by the panel. After all photos have been evaluated, the contestants leave the room and the judges deliberate.
The elimination process follows a rigid format, as the host reveals, one by one and in order of merit, the photos of the contestants who have not been eliminated. Each photo is given to the corresponding contestant, who is told by the host something similar to, "Congratulations. You are still in the running towards becoming [this country or region's] Next Top Model." The first-called contestant may receive additional benefits, such as having her photo displayed prominently in the contestants' living quarters or being allowed to share in the following week's challenge winnings, regardless of her performance in the challenge. The last two contestants who have not received their photos are brought forward for special critiques by the host before the final photo is revealed. The contestant who has not received a photo is thus eliminated from the competition. Sometimes the last two contestants are both eliminated; rarely, neither is eliminated. Multiple eliminations can also take place.
In some versions of the show, contestants find out whether or not they will continue on in the competition in a completely random fashion. The contestants may be called forward in random order to find out whether or not they performed best during the week. The last two contestants are usually the worst performers. This format is followed by Denmark (cycle 7) and Peru.
In other cases, the models are each called back into the elimination room after deliberation. Upon being called back, they are either eliminated on the spot, declared safe, or they are asked to wait for their results. If the latter happens, the process is repeated with the remaining pool of contestants in danger. This elimination format has been followed by several versions of the show, most notably Austria, Germany, and Denmark (cycles 5 and 6), along with two former versions; Croatia and Serbia.
Episodes typically end with the image of the eliminated girl(s) fading away from a group shot of the remaining contestants.
A trip to an international destination is typically scheduled at about two-thirds of the way through the competition, usually with five or six contestants remaining. While overseas, each episode covers roughly three to four days, totaling two weeks of filming abroad. In some international versions, contestants have traveled from two to six different countries.
In some versions of the show, the winner is determined during a live broadcast. This has been done in Germany, Russia, Croatia, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands (cycle 2, 3 and 4) Benelux (a combination of the former two), Brazil (cycle 4), Austria, Serbia, New Zealand (cycle 3 onward), Australia (cycle 3 onward), Britain (cycle 6 only), Poland and Vietnam. Often these votes are submitted via SMS or on any other given website. In Cycles 17, 18 and 19 of America's Next Top Model part of the first episodes were presented in front of a live crowd, but this wasn't broadcast until the cycle premieres some months later.
In the United States, Cycle 17 featured returning models from previous seasons with an All-Stars competition. In Cycle 18 of the same version, seven British models from Britain's Next Top Model competed along with new American contestants.
Social Media Voting, Scoring and Comeback Series
Beginning with cycle 19, America's Next Top Model has enabled social media fans to vote for their favorite photos online based on a scale ranging from 1 (being the worst) to 10 (being the best). Voting takes place as filming progresses, so that the results can be seen when the show begins to air on television. Each judge also scores each picture based on the same scale, with the total fan vote weighing the same as the vote of a judge. Furthermore, one or more eliminated contestants receive the opportunity to re-enter the competition if they have earned the highest overall score average over a certain period of time.
The Top Model format has been adapted for numerous national and regional versions around the world. The latest Top Model winner is Frida Børli Solaker, who won the eighth cycle of Norway's Next Top Model.
^Charlotte Dawson was hosting the live final of Cycle 4 while Jodhi Meares was not present at that event.
^Panni Epres replaced Viktória Vámosi for hosting duties at the final of Cycle 1. Eventually, Vámosi was fired before the final.
^Since the seventh cycle of Britain's Next Top Model, the show includes contestants from Ireland.
^Dave Berry was hosting the live final of Cycle 6 while Macpherson was leading the judging panel.
^The series kicked off with an unclear host/head judge position at which Elizabeth Thủy Tiên was initially offered the ultimate power in judges' table and then Nathan Lee fought against her to become another male host of the worldwide Top Model franchise. They were both fired and Hà Anh was chosen as a replacement. Vũ Anh Tuấn was hosting the live final while the head judge was leading the panel.
Ann Ward is the first ANTM winner with five first call-outs in a row.
Jourdan Miller is the first ANTM winner with six first call-outs combined with no bottom two appearances.
There have been several disqualifications in the Top Model franchise. Angelea Preston for example, was disqualified for unknown reasons despite having originally won the seventeenth season of America's Next Top Model.
^Frances Bonner Personality Presenters: Television's Intermediaries With Viewers 2011 Page 131 "The Next Top Model franchise operates differently, not having had a popular vote and using as its main presenter a successful ex-model, rather than a television professional. It was created by American model Tyra Banks, who did have television acting experience, has presented all American series, and has since expanded her television work, including into the daytime talk programme The Tyra Banks Show."
^Wendy Molyneux Everything Is Wrong With You: The Modern Woman's Guide To Finding Self Confidence Through Self-Loathing - 2008 "Not content to be just a stunning supermodel with a sweet, sweet A, Tyra Banks has created a media empire based on her America's Next Top Model franchise that has been syndicated around the world. Ms. Banks also hosts a daily talk show where she frequently addresses women's selfesteem issues as related to beauty. "
^Manuel Castells Communication Power Page 1568 2009 "And, while not officially a Top Model franchise, an Afghani local TV station made headlines in the Fall of 2007 when it launched its own lowbudget take on the format."