I feel cheated, like I've been mugged in the street and had my bag snatched; APPRENTICE BIANCA ACCUSED OF STEALING IDEA EXCLUSIVE.
THE Apprentice finalist Bianca Miller hopes to win the show tonight - with an idea a struggling disabled businesswoman claims she thought of first.
Up to seven million viewers will watch as Bianca, 25, tries to convince Lord Alan Sugar to say: "You're hired" after he hears her business plan to market skin-tone tights.
But law graduate Ella Bennett claims she invented the tights and hoped to market them- and told Bianca about the concept nearly two years ago.
She stormed last night: "No way should Lord Sugar hire Bianca. He should fire her - 100%."
Ella, 37, says she has been working on producing a range of tights to match people's flesh exactly for four years.
So she was staggered when Bianca announced in Wednesday's semi-final that she is pinning her hopes of landing a PS250,000 partnership with Lord Sugar on the same idea.
She told the Sunday People said: "I am devastated. I feel cheated out of my dreams. After putting in so much hard work and effort it feels like I've basically been mugged."
But yesterday Bianca hit back, admitting she had met Ella but insisting she did not steal her idea.
Unique Her spokesperson said: "Bianca came up with the idea in 2010 and has been developing it since then.
"She knows she is not the first, and nor will she be the last to come up with this idea - but she views any other brands providing a similar product as healthy competition."
Bianca, from Croydon, South London, goes head to head with Aussie Mark Wright, 24, in tonight's final.
She must persuade tycoon Lord Sugar that she is on to a winner with her tights, which she hopes to sell for PS24 a pair, while Mark hopes to launch a digital marketing firm.
Bianca has described her business idea as a "unique proposition" and "innovative", while hard-to-please Lord Sugar conceded he thought it was an "interesting proposition".
She told him: "I have been to one of the top most expensive tights retailers and the darkest shade they have isn't dark enough for me.
"I would expect to be able to pay for tights that suited me. There is definitely a market. I have looked into the market. There isn't anyone offering it." But Ella, who graduated from the London School of Economics, claims she told Bianca about the special skintone tights concept when they met at an Ebony Inspired networking event for black business people in February 2013.
She says Bianca then filled out a request form and ordered a sample. On the form, seen by the Sunday People, Bianca wrote: "I look forward to receiving my pair of matt tights. I really do hope this is the solution I have been looking for."
Ella graduated from the LSE but was struck down by Fibromyalgia, which attacks the central nervous system, while in her early 20s.
She was sure there was a big future for her Ella B "Nude tights for all skin tones" she says she thought up in 2010. Although she had never earned any money from the idea, she saw it as a way of getting off benefits. Ella completed her business plan in September 2011 and since then, between bouts of illness and fatigue, has been gradually building up interest in the product.
She received feedback from Asda and Boots, who both were keen to sell the product at PS4 and PS8 a pair respectively.
Then, she recalled: "I met Bianca and did my usual sales pitch to her. She took a great interest, asking questions and filling out a sample questionnaire I gave to all customers.
"I received an email from her saying how much she was looking forward to getting her tights."
Bianca, who formed her own personal development company the Be Group in 2012, received a sample of the tights in her skin tone But Ella became suspicious when Bianca also asked for sample tights in a different shade for "her apprentice". She then refused boyfriend Byron's request for some tights.
Months later Ella's project suffered a setback when she was knocked over by a car. And she became worried when Bianca showed up on the current series of The Apprentice in October.
Amazed She sent a letter to Lord Sugar pointing out that she has a business plan for flesh-tone tights but has received no reply.
Her letter concluded: "I met Bianca through a start-up entrepreneurial network about 18 months ago, at which she time was focused on recruiting new clients to her personal branding business. I am flattered that she has since pivoted her business plan to incorporate nude tights for all skin tones strategy."
Ella told the Sunday People: "I was stunned to see Bianca on the show but didn't think she would get far.
"Somehow, she managed to get through to the final.
"I was amazed that she was boosting her own profile and business career using my idea."
There is no suggestion that Bianca has done anything illegal or broken the rules of The Apprentice.
At last week's interviews stage of the show, she received good feedback for her business plan - with Lord Sugar aide Mike Soutar saying a leading fashion editor had praised the idea.
Viewers heard Bianca say: "Lord Sugar is putting up a big amount of money but I know my business plan is tight.
"I know there is a demand for my product. It can make a lot of money for me and Lord Sugar.
"In business sometimes you have to be firm. You have to say it like it is. Lord Sugar is like that. I am like that.
Money "I don't think being professional is a bad thing. I don't think being a serious woman in business is a bad thing."
At her audition she boasted: "I regret not becoming a scientist so I could clone myself and be more successful in half the time. I think money is an illustration of success.
"Money makes the world go around and having money helps to have a better lifestyle and I am all for having a better lifestyle."
Ella also dreams of a better lifestyle. She said: "I have a disability but I always try to help people, not just look out for myself.
"Unlike me, I don't think viewers have seen the real Bianca Miller - the woman behind the carefully constructed image."
She added that the PS250,000 on offer from Lord Sugar would help her get her own business scheme off the ground and she would be making a PS1million profit by year five.
Bianca's spokeswoman confirmed that Bianca had met Ella at the networking event but said the tights were merely an idea, not an invention.
The women had only met once and had never spoken on the phone, she said, and Bianca never received a sample of the tights.
The spokewoman said Ella had approached Byron, along with various others, on the LinkedIn social networking site, asking for investment.
She added that the Ebony Inspired event was one of many networking events, up to two a week, that Bianca attended to build her personal development business.
Ella had gone along to try and make contacts to help boost her own hosiery business.
Ella did not receive any payment from us for this story. She has instead asked for a donation be made to the Fibromyalgia Association UK.
Viewers have not seen the real Bianca behind the image
TOUGH: Lord Sugar will pick show winner
FINALIST: Bianca on show
RIVAL: Ella with tights she has made. Below, form Bianca filled in and letter to Sugar
ACCUSED Bianca's skintone hosiery scheme is said to be Ella's idea