Stella English said she 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 tonight'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.
"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."
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," she added.
"My great aunt Stella said if you want something go and get it yourself. You're in control of your own destiny and I believe that. I want people out there to look at me as an example and think 'I can do this' because the only person holding you back ultimately is yourself."
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".
"At first I thought he was a joke but as time went on I thought 'God, this guy comes out with some stuff. Maybe there's something there'."
She also praised runner-up Bates as a "very, very bright guy", adding: "He was a really great candidate and there were times I thought he might pull it out the bag, but I was holding on to the hope I would win."
Lord Sugar said choosing between the finalists had been a "tough decision" and insisted he would gladly offer Bates a role in one of his companies.
English, who he initially feared was "a bit too wooden, too corporate", will be charged with managing contracts at Viglen.
"It's a very, very important job where you need a very, very good organiser and someone who's very, very switched on. She's got the brain to do it," he said.
Asked how he came to his decision, he replied: "It was very, very difficult. You have to weigh it up. Maybe in a way I made it a bit selfishly but at the end of the day, I'm the one giving out the job."
And he said he would be happy to discuss future opportunities with Bates.
"He's young, he's got no real experience but he's a very quick learner and I think he would be useful," he said.
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.
"She brought so many skills to the table, she's very experienced and is a great manager of people. She's performed consistently and has been good since the beginning. I'm sure she'll do a great job."
He also addressed comments about his monotonous voice.
"When I was getting the feedback, I thought it seemed slightly harsh - but watching it back you did think maybe they have a point. When it comes to presentations I needed to add a bit of variety of tone, and it's something I did take on board."
Both finalists have been working over the past few months within Lord Sugar's empire ahead of the show boss's verdict.
Bates said his time on the show was "like an accelerated business boot camp".
Asked what he wanted to do next, he said: "I'm young and inexperienced, and I've not gone down one career route I've necessarily become indoctrinated to. My door is open to a variety of different options at this stage."