Stella occasion: Sugar hires grafter with no qualifications for top job

Stella English was "on cloud nine" last night 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, from Surrey, 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 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."

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

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."

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.