Apprentice winner on cloud nine

STELLA English was “on cloud nine” after being crowned Lord Sugar’s new Apprentice – and said she had been driven to win for the sake of her children.

The 31-year-old banker beat Chris Bates, 24, to the highly-prized job working for Lord Sugar after 12 weeks of tough tasks.

After finally learning the news on Sunday night’s final on BBC1’s The Apprentice, the mother-of-two said: “It’s still a lot to take in. I’m on cloud nine and my feet haven’t really touched the ground yet.”

She insisted, however, that the prospect of returning home to her two sons without the job was always out of the question.

“There were times that I felt very tired and it was much harder than I ever thought it would be. But in terms of quitting, there was absolutely no way.

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“When I walked out that door and looked at my boys’ faces as I left, I fully intended to come back with a new job. I could never think of coming out of it without winning.”

She added: “My children are two and four so they’re far more interested in CBeebies than The Apprentice but hopefully what they will see they will have a much more settled life. They will be living in Hertfordshire and will have a better quality of life, which is why I’ve done this.”

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London-based English emerged triumphant after a nailbiting final in which previous contestants returned to help the remaining two create, market and sell an alcoholic drink.

Bates, from Surrey, came up with a pomegranate-infused concoction called Prism, while English created Urbon, marketed as a new take on classic drink Bourbon.

English, who was an early favourite to clinch the contest, will move to the country and work for Lord Sugar’s company Viglen, which provides IT services, largely for the education sector.

English, who left school with no qualifications but grafted her way to a job at a Japanese investment bank, said she hoped her win would inspire others to realise they can achieve what they set out to.

“I’ve spent a long time blaming other people, but the time my life really turned around for the best was when I stopped doing that.”

During the series, English was seen clashing with loudmouth Stuart Baggs while they worked on a task about novelty DVDs.

But she insisted she is “actually really fond of him” and compared him to a “naughty little brother”.

Meanwhile, Bates said he had “mixed emotions” not to have won, but stressed he looked back on the process “with a great deal of pride”.

The Nottingham University graduate said Lord Sugar had picked the right person.

Both finalists have been working over the past few months within Lord Sugar’s empire ahead of the show boss’s verdict.

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