Members of staff in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College, where 130 jobs are currently at risk, have received an email informing them that they "may not be achieving more than one of the minimum criteria" for academic performance, says The Times Higher Education supplement.
The email was sent to staff by Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor, Deputy Principal of the Faculty.
When one recipient of the email copied the contents of a spreadsheet attached to the email into another document, a hidden message was revealed: "Alan Sugar says... You're fired!".
Sir Anthony later sent another message to staff, apologising for the incident. It said that the comments in the spreadsheet had been placed there by a faculty employee.
The message continued, explaining that the member of staff concerned had been suspended and that an investigation was now underway. It is believed that this member of staff has now resigned.
Sir Anthony reassured staff, telling them that the comments in the original email "do not in any way represent the views of the faculty, and have no bearing on the consultation process".
An Imperial College spokeswoman said that the college "greatly regrets the totally unacceptable actions of one of its employees".