The Apprentice (Season 7), Carol Alt, ...

I never thought I would say this, but thank God for The Celebrity Apprentice. Just one week ago, my beloved 30 Rock aired its final episode filmed prior to the strike, and I was not prepared to let go of my Jack Donaghy just yet. But luckily, last night, Alec Baldwin showed up to lend support to his brother, and honestly, could he have been any more hilarious? His single minute of airtime proved more entertaining than the collective work of the rest of our “celebrities.” His false enthusiasm about ink and his assertion that “There’s no one more full of crap than Stephen” made up some of the night’s funniest moments, and his appearance even spurred Piers to proclaim that Alec “showed everyone what a real Baldwin is.” Ouch. I know the show is setting up Piers to be the villain of the season, but when the man speaks the truth, could you really hold it against him?

Along with the episode’s good moments, however, come the bad, and last night’s worst moment was in its final minutes. Yes, the tongue-wagging, semi-sexist and ever-quotable Kiss frontman got the boot, leaving behind a string of memorable moments. Hey, not everyone can voice their support of children with AIDS and still sound like that pervy guy who hangs out at the local pool with a bundle of roofies in his back pocket. But now, merely three weeks into this proverbial dead horse of a show, we lost the most interesting and watchable contestant in all of Apprentice history (my heart goes out to the producer currently sobbing in a closet somewhere).

But let’s rewind a bit to the beginning of this week’s episode.Seems Nadia’s ouster provided more grief for Nely (second from right)than the fired Olympic gymnast herself. And to that I say: Seriously,Nely? You’re a successful television producer, probably prone todealing with stress, pressure and all that jazz, and you actually cried on Celebrity Apprentice?People, this is a lousy Trump-branded TV show, not a SallyStruthers-helmed “Save the Children” commercial. Not that Nely is thesharpest tool in the box (and the show boasts a pretty big box oftools). Girl didn’t even know that Kodak made printers. Somewhere,Larry King is sympathizing. Assuming he’s learned how to turn on thepicture box, of course.

Anyway, on to the challenge. After announcing the switcheroo that placedGene at the head of Empresario, The Donald instructed the two teams tocreate a campaign for Kodak’s new ink products. Naturally, with Gene atthe helm, the girls had a creative advantage over the men, and therocker came up with an inspired slogan in mere minutes. Not that manyof the women even attempted to argue or put their two cents in — seemsGene had most of his teammates at “hello,” or, in this case, “I am abenevolent dictator.”

On the men’s side, Hydra opted for Tito as their project manager (inwhat capacity he managed, I have yet to figure out), and it seemed theteam was a little lost at first without Gene to provide creepy, yetuseful, suggestions for the challenge. But Piers stepped up and createda slogan that seemed to fit Kodak’s message well: “Kodak presents theink revolution that’s going to knock you out.” Admittedly, I don’tthink it’s quite as catchy, as Empresario’s “It’s a Kodak World.Welcome,” but apparently, the photo company is serious about its ink.But really, folks, do consumers actually care about the intricatedetails of what’s inside the printer? I mean, the last time ink made animpact on my purchase was when Gelly Roll pens were a status symbolin junior high.

Effective slogan aside, Hydra’s presentationwas downright heinous. Not only did their trailer seem more fit fortornado-bound park than a high-profile campaign, but Hydra’s somewhathomoerotic “knock-out” photo really didn’t seem to promote the rightimage for the clean-cut company. Sure, the concept may have beenclever, but that photo of Tito and Lennox “I like cats” Lewis was asbizarre as Gene’s bird’s-nest hair. I don’t know about you,PopWatchers, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a knocked-outboxer smiling. But I’m sure Lennox was just thinking about how much hewished the printer was a snuggly kitty. Hydra’s message, however, wasenough to win them the challenge (I’m sure Alec’s monetary contributiondidn’t hurt the men either). At least Gene ended his Celebrity Apprentice run with his sense of humor intact. You have to love his command to the elevator operator: “Down, Jeeves.”

What did you think of last night’s episode, PopWatchers? Are you as devastated as I am to see Celebrity Apprentice‘sone source of entertainment leave the show? Did you, like me, enjoythe surprising rapport between Piers and Jennie? Does it seem thatOmarosa disagrees with her teammatesonly in order to have leverage in the boardroom? And, finally, are you looking forward to a Piers v. Vincent showdown in two weeks?