The answer to that question depends on how much muscle you are currently holding and how much fat you have. The reason is that if you have never trained before and have no muscle on your body as a result is that your abs will not be seen because your abdominal wall is simply too thin, no matter how much fat you lose.
What this means is that if you carry no extra muscle on your body and you get your body-fat down to below 5% by eating correctly the abs that you do see will not be clearly defined simply because they do not have the size to push through the thin fat layer over your stomach.
So getting back to the question above on how long to show your abs the answer will depend on how much muscle you currently have. If you have been training for a while and cannot see your abs then you need to lose fat fast. The best way to do this is by eating correctly.
Eating correctly means speeding up your metabolism which can be done very effectively and give you very noticeable results within 6 weeks. The improvement of your eating habits should include a few basics. The first is no fried food which means no junk food.
The second means eating more often, that does not mean more but rather more often and the minimum of 5 small meals that you eat throughout your day should be balanced. A small well balanced meal means protein, complex carbs and some good quality fat like virgin olive oil or butter.
Counting calories may seem like a hassle when you start off for the first time but you quickly get used to it and get to know the caloric value of all foods very quickly. For example the caloric difference between a boiled egg (70 calories) and a fried egg (220 calories) will tell you a lot about calories.
If you want to lose fat fast then you not only need to speed up your metabolism by eating more often but also burn more calories in your workouts. Sports science has proven that after doing a high intensity workout for 45 minutes your metabolism will burn more calories for 8 hours after the workout.
If you want to burn fat fast so that you can see your abs then you need to count your calories and make sure that you get used to living in a calorie deficit. What this means is what Arnold make a movie about called "Staying Hungry" by eating 5 or 6 small meals throughout your day.
If you get hungry you should drink water which will also help speed up metabolism and at least 8 glasses of water should be had every 24 hours. But there are other "snack foods" that you can eat when you are hungry like salads or even popcorn, obviously without the butter and salt.
For more info on how to get 6 pack abs fast go to How To Get A Perfect Six-Pack Of Abs ASAP